The Ophthalmic Common Clinical Competency Framework

The Common Clinical Competency Framework (CCCF), published in 2016, sets out the standards and guidance for the knowledge and skills required by non-medical eye healthcare professionals delivering patient care in a multidisciplinary team setting. The CCCF is based heavily on The College of Optometrists’ higher qualifications, and we welcomed the move towards a consistent skill set across the eye health system in order to ensure consistent quality of service provision, irrespective of setting.  

The Framework, now named the Ophthalmic Common Clinical Competency Framework (OCCCF), has been developed into a curriculum, with corresponding workplace-based assessments and resources, covering four clinical areas; acute and emergency eye care, cataract assessment, glaucoma and medical retina. The Diploma in Therapeutics (Independent Prescribing) is not covered by the OCCCF curriculum. The curriculum indicates where this qualification is required. 

The OCCCF is for those employed in secondary care only, and aimed at those working under consultant supervision in the hospital eye service. The OCCCF is entirely voluntary and optometrists who wish to undertake an OCCCF qualification will need to demonstrate that they have completed the curriculum and assessments, as it is portfolio-based training.  

The College’s higher qualifications will continue to demonstrate a high level of clinical care and high value clinical judgements. For example, to run a satellite hospital clinic in glaucoma, where no consultant is present, the Diploma in Glaucoma is necessary, as it is at a higher level than level three of the OCCCF curriculum. 

The College’s position: 

We are aware that the optometric community expressed concerns that OCCCF implies a loss of independence to the optometric profession.  

The College does not currently endorse the OCCCF, due to concerns surrounding the OCCCF curriculum during the development stages, the increasing distance from both the initial content of the original CCCF and principles of independent case management. We raised these concerns with the Royal College of Ophthalmologists. They reassured us that optometrists entering hospital practice at core competence level (or with a professional certificate or higher certificate in an area of practice), will not be asked to demonstrate again the skills in which they have already been assessed. 

Optometrists have a vital role to play in helping to manage the increasing demand for ophthalmic services. We are committed to supporting optometrists in working as independent clinical decision makers, with systems of clinical governance and clinical leadership that deliver the high quality of clinical care our patients deserve.